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Innovative AU Researcher wins 2013 Guidance Award

Associate Professor Rie Thomsen from Aarhus University has won this year’s DKK 25,000 Guidance Award. Rie Thomsen’s research field is “guidance in communities”. Her communication skills have inspired guidance practitioners all over the country, thereby influencing and innovating education and career guidance in Denmark.

2013.09.26 | Mathilde Weirsøe

On 16 September Associate Professor Rie Thomsen was presented with the 2013 Guidance Award.

On 16 September Associate Professor Rie Thomsen from Aarhus University was presented with the 2013 Guidance Award. The award is worth DKK 25,000, and it was presented by the Danish Association of Guidance Practitioners in connection with a conference held in Vejle for guidance practitioners at continuation schools in Denmark.

Mingling is the key

The chair of the Guidance Award committee, Birgit Heie, explains the choice of Rie Thomsen as follows:

“Since completing her PhD dissertation, Rie Thomsen has actively and tirelessly worked to spread her ideas about getting guidance practitioners out of their offices and encouraging them to mingle with communities of people who are looking for guidance. She has inspired the guidance environment in her lectures and presentations at conferences in Denmark and abroad, in her research network, in her teaching, and in books and articles. It is difficult to overestimate her significance for guidance practice in Denmark.”

Rie Thomsen has played a major role in the innovation of guidance for young people who are looking for courses of further education. Serious education and career guidance always used to involve one-to-one discussions behind closed doors. But in her PhD dissertation in 2009, entitled “Vejledning i fællesskaber”, Rie Thomsen demonstrated why it was such a good idea for guidance practitioners to get out of their offices and mingle with people looking for guidance in their own environments.

This is how Rie Thomsen explains her own distinctive approach to guidance:

“New perspectives and opportunities arise when you challenge traditional ways of thinking, and start conducting guidance sessions in communities. For instance, young people considering various courses of further education can learn from the experiences of current students, establishing ties and relationships that can help them to make up their minds. Guidance practitioners become facilitators, and communities can offer both opportunities and suggestions. Guidance also becomes less private, and the people looking for guidance say they feel less alone with their problems. This helps to ease the pressure. These days young people often feel that they are always expected to do the right thing,” explains Rie Thomsen.

Guidance practitioners at educational centres for young people as well as institutions of education have welcomed the new ideas, and guidance in communities has become a popular and common way of organising guidance sessions. It is rare for a PhD dissertation to inspire such major changes in the basic methods used within a subject field – but Rie Thomsen’s research has actually succeeded in doing so.

About Rie Thomsen

Rie Thomsen is an associate professor at the Department of Education, Aarhus University, where she is a teacher and supervisor for the Master’s degree programme in guidance and the Master’s degree programme in general education.

She is the manager of the Lifelong Learning research programme at the Department of Education, Aarhus University, as well as being a member of the Practical Research in Development research network. Rie Thomsen’s PhD dissertation was published as a book in 2008, with an English version being published in 2012 entitled “Career Guidance in Communities”. In 2011 she co-authored a book entitled “Vejledning i Samspil”, and she is also the co-author of her most recent publication: “At vejlede i fællesskaber og grupper”. Her research includes guidance at folk high schools, in companies, at residential schools and in prisons. Rie Thomsen has been appointed as a member of the academic committee for a European graduate school in guidance in the autumn of 2013.

For more information about Rie Thomsen’s research and publications

The Guidance Award

Schultz’s Guidance Award (DKK 25,000) is awarded every second year to a guidance practitioner who has made a special effort for education and career guidance in Denmark. The aim of the award is to promote and encourage initiative and innovation for the benefit of Danish educational, business and career guidance. Since 1993 the award has been presented every second year to someone who is a true enthusiast in their field. Candidates are nominated by their colleagues.


Rie Thomsen: +45 87 16 36 61; riet@dpu.dk

Chair of the Guidance Award board: Birgit Heie, Senior Consultant at Schultz Education and Guidance, tel. +45 41 95 47 29, bhe@schultz.dk .

Helene Valgreen, chair of the Danish Guidance Association and a member of the Guidance Award board, +45 40 44 41 88, helv@dpu.dk .

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